Building a custom home is the dream of many people here in The Bay Area, but they often end up purchasing a pre-built home because of the scarcity of buildable lots and the perceived cost of having one built to their personal specifications. There’s nothing like designing your own home as you can include anything you like such as inlaid hardwood floors, granite countertops, a sunroom, custom cabinetry, swimming pool, games room, rec room, wet bar, three-car garage and so on. 

There’s no question it will cost a considerable amount of money, but a custom home could be less expensive than many people think. If you work with the right contractor, they can make everything go much smoother.  We hired a design build contractor in The Bay Area who handled all aspects of the project for us.

Custom Home Costs

Like most other things, the cost of building your own home will depend on several factors, with location being one of the major ones. In general, a custom home will cost approximately 75 to 100 percent more than pre-built units do in the same residential area. In addition, you’ll also need to consider the cost of the land. In most areas, the average custom-built dwelling will cost between $200 and $400 per square foot if it’s built with Grade A materials. Therefore, a 3,000 square-foot home could come in between $600,000 and $1.2 million.

But on the other hand, if you’re interested in building a more modest home in a lower-cost location you may be able to do it for as low as approximately $100 per square foot, which would be half the price. This would enable you to construct a 3,000 square-foot house for about $300,000 plus the cost of the land and furnishings for the home. You’re probably wondering what exactly is included in these costs. Well, this price generally covers the standard preparation of the site such as the foundation, materials, labour and utilities, but doesn’t include loan fees and design plans if any are needed.

Along with the size of the building, the overall cost will also depend on how complex the plans are as well as the quality of materials you plan on using. You can always cut down the cost by using lower grade materials if you choose and of course you can add to the price if you want everything to be top of the line. In addition, if you plan on hiring an architect to help design the home you’ll find they typically charge anywhere between two and 15 percent of the total building cost. However, most architects will also be on hand during the construction to make sure everything is going to plan.

Get a Professional Estimate

It’s generally recommended to have an architect look over any plans you have to make sure they adhere to the local building codes, all make sense, and can be built on the lot you have. You also need to inquire about building permits and add those to your cost. It wouldn’t be fair to suggest that building a custom home is an easy process because it can actually be quite an involved ordeal. It includes choosing the land, as well as designing the home, research, pre-construction tasks, interior and exterior fixtures and finishes along with landscaping. And don’t forget you also need to finance the project and for many people that will mean taking out a loan and having to pay fees and interest.  Engaging with a Design-Build contracting company can help cut out much of the red tape as they become a single source for all of your needs, from design to permits to construction.

If you’re interested in designing and building your own home it’s a good idea to talk with any friends, family or colleagues who have already built their homes. They will be able to relate their experiences with you and let you know what you should be aware of concerning difficulties and hidden costs etc. If you’re looking for a contractor you may want to check with your regional home building association. When dealing with an architect and/or contractor be sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered in each quote and don’t be afraid to ask to see their previous work. It’s important to know if the contractor will take care of all subcontracting work as well as the cleanup etc.

Other things that should be included in the contractor’s price are excavation, foundation, insulation, trim work, fixtures, cabinets and countertops, flooring, doors, heating and cooling systems, lighting, painting, plumbing, roofing, wiring and windows etc. In addition, before hiring anybody to help build your custom home be sure they are properly licensed, bonded and insured.